Conservative vs. Liberal Views ~ Which are you?
by Larry Davis June 21, 2011
Recent point, counter point columns in our local newspaper debated whether Jesus is a Liberal. One of the authors quoted a dictionary definition of liberal as the final argument. Therefore I decided to research his findings. Using variations of the word "Liberal" and the dictionary found at www.merriam-webster.com, I discovered definitions from "marked by generosity" to one now considered to be obsolete "lacking moral restraint". You may ask yourself, "How does one word have such diverse meanings?"
To answer this question, we need to examine how government has evolved throughout the documented history of mankind. We need not agree on whether God created man or he evolved from macromolecules. (For the record, I lean heavily toward the Biblical account and if mankind could adhere to the will of God and live without sin, he would have no need of government.) We can agree however, that at some point in time the human race consists of very few members. At this level of sparse population there is no need for government as an individual man without cooperative interaction with another man is by definition self-governing. When man discovered the benefits of neighbor helping neighbor they began to colonize; and the realization of man's nature to covet his neighbor's possessions required him to define regulations to protect one from the other. Alas, government is born.
To regulate the behavior of a man, the man must be convinced it justified or he must be forced to relinquish portions of his individual liberty to the regulating authority. Each new regulation requires the surrender of additional individual liberty.
Man's natural weakness to covet induces distrust and wars between tribes come to pass. To increase their strength and chances of survival, tribes of similar beliefs and goals begin to align together through agreements or treaties. The size of government grows and individual liberties are reduced further. Government continues to evolve and take many forms from nomadic tribes to tyrannical monarchies. It is a constant battle among common man to find balance between the surrender of liberties and the sum of regulation mandated by society.
This brings us to John Locke who is often credited as the Father of Liberalism. Locke believed in individual liberty and free markets. By reviewing a few quotes attributed to Locke "All wealth is the product of labor", "Where there is no desire, there will be no industry", "Government has no other end than the preservation of property" one could conceive a liberal to be "lacking moral restraint". But to do this requires deception; as other quotes from Locke, "To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality", "The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. - It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter" proves his compassion and morality. His beliefs and writings had a profound influence on our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
This Classical Liberalism morphed into Social Liberalism during the mid 19th century as, believe it or not, Christian movements began to focus on the perceived inequities of society. This movement alleged that individual liberties were only achievable thru intervention of the State: which in itself is a dichotomy of thought. Social justice began to slither into laws and regulations as the banner progressed on this belief that equal and impartial laws do not in fact create a level playing field. Here one might conclude a Liberal to be "marked by generosity".
In our Declaration of Independence we find, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". Based on these founding principles, one must conclude that individual liberties come from the Creator not government.
Is Jesus a Liberal? Of which definition do you speak? I ask you, did he believe in individual liberty and responsibility? "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which is Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." I therefore assert that our liberties are things which belong to God. Other than the crucifixion, I can not determine from the scriptures where Christ's teachings or actions disclose that God requires governmental assistance to advance his will.
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